2012-06-08 / Top Stories

SJEH Usage Up 35 Percent In Wake Of PHC Closure

By Howard Schwach

The closure of Peninsula Hospital Center on Beach 51 Street by the state’s Department of Health has caused a wave of new usage by the peninsula’s only hospital, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, an SJEH spokesperson said this week.

“In 2011, St. John’s had 11,000 patient admissions and approximately 120,000 outpatient visits with 30,000 Emergency Department visits,” hospital spokesperson Penny Chin said on Wednesday. “Since Peninsula’s closure, St. John’s is experiencing a 35 percent increase in patient visits to its Emergency

Department. At the same time, its inpatient volume has increased approximately 11 percent, with regular occupancy rates of 85 percent.”

Chin added, “Within its current structure, the Hospital is nearing its capacity to meet the increased demand for services; staff is accomplishing this with much grace, caring and compassion.”

Nelson Tobbe, the hospital’s CEO, said, “While the Rockaway peninsula is facing a challenging time for health care since the closure of Peninsula Hospital Center, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital is doing all it can to meet community needs as quickly as possible. St. John’s staff has done an excellent job to date treating the increased numbers of patients and remains committed to be a reliable and enduring provider of healthcare and medical education.”

“On behalf of our Board of Managers, I can say we are very concerned about the immediate and long-term healthcare needs posed by Peninsula’s closure,” Tobbe added. “With the support of our elected officials and others, we are exploring every option to expand health care services to our community.”

Chin said that the Hospital has sought a number of ways to reach out to the community, open channels of communication, and identify new and potential partners to provide healthcare.

She said that the Hospital has filed Certificate of Need applications with the New York State Department of Health for phased facility expansions for the Emergency Department, including an observation unit, and the Critical Care Department, which will permanently expand capacity.

In addition, the credentialing process for new physicians has been expedited, with eight physicians coming aboard, and staffing continues to increase in the Emergency Department and other areas of the Hospital.

A new Family Medicine practice is being established in Belle Harbor and ambulatory clinic services have been expanded. Improving access to ambulatory care and serving new locations will meet the demand for primary care and help to decompress demand for emergency care, Chin said. .

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